The NHL suspended Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman 20 games on Wednesday for cross-checking a linesman during a game last week, the second-longest suspension in NHL history for abusing an official.
Wideman was suspended for violating the league rule on physical abuse of officials after he struck linesman Don Henderson and knocked him down during the Flames’ game against Nashville on Jan. 27. The 32-year-old will forfeit $564,516 in salary.
Only Gordie Dwyer of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who was suspended 23 games in part for abuse of officials during an exhibition game in 2000, was suspended longer for such a violation. Wideman had a hearing with the NHL’s department of hockey operations on Tuesday that included representatives from the Players’ Association and NHL Officials Association. He may appeal the suspension to commissioner Gary Bettman, which he is expected to do.
After the game last week, Wideman said he was in pain after a hit from the Predators’ Miikka Salomaki and couldn’t avoid hitting Henderson. He was not penalized and skated over to the officials and apologized moments later. “Throughout my career — and I’ve been around for a few years — I think I’ve treated every official with the utmost respect,” Wideman said, “and I would never intentionally try to hit a linesman or a ref or anything like that.”
Wideman has no previous history of on- or off-ice incidents and is known as a player who often avoids penalties. He has just 30 penalty minutes in 48 games this season. His suspension, which was considered indefinite pending a hearing, began with the Flames’ game Wednesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Wideman has two goals and 17 assists this season for Calgary, which is 13th place in the Western Conference.